Wednesday
Mar302011

100 Things to Eat Before You Die

I saw this list a long time ago and thought it was interesting.  I ran across it again and decided to rate myself - 32/100. Not too bad, considering there are things on this that I will never eat. Bold = I have eaten this food. Italics = I will never eat this food. Regular = I just haven't had the chance

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht - I almost Italizied this one - I really hate beets, but I won't rule it out.

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho

13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns - I'm really interested in this one - I plan to try it soon.

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters - these just gross me out

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - I've had clam chowder and a sourdough bowl... just not together

33. Salted lassi

34. Sauerkraut

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar - not the cognac, the cigar is the obstacle

37. Clotted cream tea

38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects

43. Phaal

44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - I'm sure I've had one, Big Macs just aren't that memorable

56. Spaetzle - I really want to try this...

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin - I can't say never here... pregnancy can bring on strange cravings for some women, someday I might be pregnant and have such an urge...

64. Currywurst

65. Durian

66. Frogs’ legs - "You ever et a frog?" - Misspelling intentional... anyone know what movie that's from?

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis - "Harriet, sweet Harriet. Hard Hearted Harbinger of Haggis..."

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe

74. Gjetost, or brunost

75. Roadkill

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie

78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong

80. Bellini

81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers - nasturshums

89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

Wednesday
Oct272010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Doughnuts

 

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

This month's challenge pushed me to try making doughnuts that were new to me.  I have made doughnuts before with success and felt comfortable trying a different kind of recipe than the ones recommended in the challenge.  The fall weather enticed me to try making pumpkin pie brioche doughnuts.  The recipe I used for the dough was from Healthy Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

I have tried recipes from the original Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day with mostly success.  This was the first recipe I have tried from the newer book.  In the book, they claim the dough makes excellent doughnuts, so I felt good about trying this.

However, I felt the doughnuts were only okay.  I suppose I wanted them to have a more pumpkin flavor and even though I doubled the spice amount (using fresh spices) they still didn't seem very flavorful.  This is not to say they still did not get eaten.  They were pretty good while fresh and hot, just not as tasty once they cooled.  The recipe I used can be found here.

 

Monday
Sep272010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

This month's challenge, although seemingly simple, was anything but.  I was excited about this challenge because I have wanted to try my hand at using royal icing to decorate sugar cookies for a long time.  I was fairly confident that I could make something that was pretty, but I wasn't quite sure I could make something that looked "realistic".  I decorated leaves and dogs.  The leaves are pictured, the dogs... well, let's just say they aren't worth posting... really, they are too funny.

Working with Royal icing can be tricky, and making really fantastic looking cookies takes practice, but I feel good about how the leaves turned out.

The sugar cookie recipe itself, I wasn't crazy about in the beginning.  The recipe definitely needs to be decorated because it really isn't very sweet and has little flavor.  Additionally, this is another cookie recipe that seems to improve with age.  The day I made these cookies and decorated them they were okay tasting.  Two or three days later and these cookies are slightly soft, yet sturdy, and the sugary vanilla flavor comes through.  

I have posted the recipes below, however, I haven't included a lot of information about the details of decorating cookies because I am no expert in this area.  However, I have included some links to people who do have a lot of knowledge in this area.

Thanks for the excellent challenge!

Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies

200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Directions
 Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture. (Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during baking, losing their shape.) Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.

Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.  Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 1/4".  Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.

Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.  Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.  (It’s important to chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.)
Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.  Bake until very lightly golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.  (Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done.  Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly, or bake one sheet at a time).

Leave to cool on cooling racks.  Once completely cooled, decorate as desired. If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.


Royal Icing (From Joy of Baking)

4 cups (440 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar

3 tablespoons (30 grams) meringue powder

1/2 teaspoon extract (vanilla, lemon, almond) I used 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp almond extract

1/2 - 3/4 cup (120 - 180 ml) warm water

 In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder until combined.  Add the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. To cover or 'flood' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.

The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with  plastic wrap when not in use.

Makes about 3 cups

Read more:http://www.joyofbaking.com/RoyalIcing.html#ixzz10mNVXjI1

Tips and Instructions on Decorating Fancy Cookies:

http://sweetopia.net/2009/06/cookie-decorating-tutorial-general-tips-butterfly-cookies/

http://sweetopia.net/2009/09/how-to-decorate-cookies-with-royal-icing-top-10-tips/

 

 

Okay, okay! Here is a picture of the dog cookies.  My work here reminds me of something I drew under the kitchen table with blue-green crayon when I was six!  Proof that we all have our areas of strength, and mine is not in making "realistic" looking sugar cookies!  Thanks for reading to the end of this post! :D

 

Tuesday
Sep142010

Grape & Pear-Grape Gelées (Pâtes de Fruits) 

 

Pear-Grape Gelées

  When my parents moved into their new house several years ago they were fortunate enough to inherit a well established tart cherry tree and a venerable Concord grape vine.  Apparently, the former homeowners liked to make fruit wines.  However, my parents don't really drink and, therefore, have little interest in winemaking.  Usually my mom makes grape jelly.  I'm not a huge grape jelly fan.  It is usually the last flavor I would choose.  However, I do like grapes, and homegrown grapes can be something special.  

 

Grape Gelées

My mom did not have a grape harvest last year because Japanese Beetles destroyed her vines before she realized it and was able to do anything about it.  For some reason, the Japanese Beetles attacked this year, stayed for a few weeks, and then mysteriously disappeared.  So thankfully, this year, we were able to pick over 8 pounds of grapes!  I was encouraging my mom to try something new with her grapes and she was interested.  She, too, was looking to make something other than jelly.  So we looked at making sorbet, or jam (instead of jelly) or a pie.  But when I mentioned the idea of candies, my mom was immediately on board.

I have seen Pâtes de Fruits on other blogs and in some cookbooks, but had never made them before.  In fact, I'd never really had one; the closest thing I've had is an "orange slice" candy, which are poor substitutes for the real thing.  So, on Saturday, my mom and I spent the day harvesting and cooking down the grapes from her backyard.

Grape Gelées

This recipe, although time consuming, produces a quality gelée.  The texture is firm, but not overly chewy and they both had a very good "jammy" flavor.  They were quite sweet, so be sure to cut them in small cubes.  The pear-grape gelées were more muted in their grape flavor, which is to be expected.  I preferred the all grape gelées, personally.  Their texture was a bit firmer and was all grape.  I'd love to try making these again with fruits that I am even more enamored with, like peaches and raspberries.  

Pear-Grape Gelées

Grape Gelée Candies

Adapted from Brittles, Barks & Bonbons by Charity Ferreira

Ingredients

3 pounds fruit {For Pear-Grape gelées use 2 pounds Bartlett or Anjou pears and 1 pound stemmed grapes (we used Concord from the garden).  For all grape gelées, use 3 pounds stemmed grapes}

4 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup water

Two 3-ounce packages Certo liquid pectin

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Line a 8 inch square pan with foil (we used non-stick foil and it worked well)

Rinse pears (if using) and grapes thoroughly.  Quarter, core and cut the pears into chunks (don't remove the peel because in contains more pectin which helps the candies set up).  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together all the fruit, 2 cups sugar and the water and simmer gently about 20 minutes.  Let the mixture cool slightly, then puree it in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Press this mixture through a sieve or other fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.

Return the puree to the saucepan and add the pectin, lemon juice and 1 cup sugar.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, especially as it reduces, until the mixture is quite thick, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.  It should be thick enough that when you run a spoon across the bottom of the pan, you can see the bottom of the pan for a moment before the mixture covers it again.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula.  Let it cool at room temperature 1 hour, then cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 more hours, or up to 2 weeks.

Just before serving, place the remaining 1 cup sugar on a plate.  Remove the candy from the pan.  Trim the edges and cut the candy into 3/4" squares.  Roll the squares in sugar to coat.  

 

Grape Gelées

 

Monday
Aug302010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Ice Cream

In my household we have an obsession with chocolate and peanut butter, especially lately.  Our favorite cake is the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake from Sky High.  In fact, I recently made the cake again for a family gathering.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any parchment paper and I decided to make the cakes without lining the pans.  It turns out, those parchment circles really are important, at least for chocolate cakes.  Even though I thoroughly floured and buttered my pans, one of the cake layers stuck to its pan and was un-usable in the cake.  However, I tucked the broken cake layer away in the freezer for another day.

When I was contemplating ice cream flavors for the latest Daring Bakers' Challenge, an ice cream emulating our beloved Chocolate Peanut Butter cake struck me.  However, I knew it would be too powerful for the delicate brown butter cake.  Also, it deserved to be enjoyed for what it was, not mixed with more cake.  

So, using David Lebovitz's Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream from the Perfect Scoop as my guide, I mixed up the ice cream batter.  I prepared little peanut butter patties with a little extra sugar to firm them up (to simulate the frosting) and cut the cake (while frozen) into coarse chunks.  It came together beautifully and tasted just as rich and decadent as the cake.  Needless to say, there is not any more of this ice cream left in my freezer... 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake Ice Cream

Slightly adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz from The Perfect Scoop

Yield: 1 quart

2 cups half-and-half
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 of one 8 or 9 inch Chocolate Cake round (you could also use any other chocolate cake you like)
Peanut Butter Patties (recipe follows)

Peanut Butter Patties
6 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
2-4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (I added extra sugar because I thought it needed it, you may be happy with the original 2 tablespoons)

Mix together the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap. Pinch off small pieces of the peanut butter mixture, about ½ teaspoon each, and drop them onto the dinner plate. Once you’ve used all of the mixture, freeze the patties. (The patties can be stored in the freezer, well wrapped, for up to 1 month.)

To Make the Ice Cream:

1. Whisk together the half-and-half, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended.

2. Chill mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Fold in the Peanut Butter Patties and cake chunks (thawed if you want them to disperse some in the ice cream, still frozen if you want them to remain solid chunks) when it has finished churning. Place in a freezer container and freeze until firm.